“You are having a kid? Man, your life is never going to be the same again!”
All new parents get told this. The problem is, we all know that our lives are going to change but no one tells us how it will change. It’s as if veteran mothers and fathers like to haze us rookies by telling us what we already know while keeping the actual useful tips to themselves so they can laugh maniacally when we get hit with a shit shower, or why in the bloody hell can’t we find the chips we put away (check the fridge, trust me).
As a freshly minted first time father myself, I have learned quickly just how your life changes, and how these beautiful, wonderful little demons we call our children can make everything in life make sense while at the same time leaving you wondering just what in the fuck just happened.
FIVE LESSONS FOR NEW PARENTS
1. You will never sleep the same again…ever
From the moment you, or your loved on, goes into labor, a switch is flipped. Your veins open as wide as they can and your body seemingly gushes an ungodly amount of adrenaline into your system that makes you feel like you can run a marathon barefoot on the surface of the sun without even sweating. It’s instinctual and it pushes your through the entire labor, delivery, recovery room and right through the first night with your brand new,sleep depriving toy. You will start to think that you will never need to sleep again, which is a great mindset to have…since you will never truly sleep again.
By day three, that adrenaline rush is gone and you are left with raccoon eyes, a shirt you are wearing that you most likely were wearing when your child was born and an awful case of delusional visuals which, would be great back in college and on mushrooms, but concerning now that you are legally responsible for another human.
And that’s just the beginning.
By the time you get your family home, you will have the revelation that no matter how prepared you thought you were, that your house is one humongous baby booby-trap that needs to be cleaned, remodeled and/or possibly completely bulldozed over to start from scratch. So you will bypass sleep to make it right. And once that is good to go, you will remember that you haven’t exactly eaten much for the last week and thus, sleep will wait in order to treat yourself to a big fat burrito, slice of pizza and anything else that happens to be in, or around the house.
Ad after all of that, when everything is cleaned, your belly stuffed and the baby is asleep…you still won’t sleep. You will watch your baby sleep, and your partner sleep. You will poke them both just to make sure that they are, in fact, breathing. And by the time you snap out of it and climb into your bed, the little shit will stir and make an odd squeak, causing you to jump out of bed like an enraged bull to run over and check on them. They will be fine, but you will do this anyway.
Why? Because fuck sleep, your baby just squeezed and that shit takes precedence.
2. Your hands will be permanently dried and cracked for the next year
This may be more of an issue for the mothers as opposed to the fathers, but it is an issue nonetheless. I knew I would be washing my hands more often with the newborn, but it is flat out ridiculous how often you actually end up soaping, sanitizing and drying your mitts. Having a kid really makes you check yourself about how disgusting you actually are as a human. As a guy we pick our nose, scratch our balls and just end up touching a bunch of things that we probably shouldn’t be touching. Normally, this isn’t a big deal as boogers and sweat don’t get us sick and, unless you are a completely dysfunctional human being, you wash your hands before contacting other people if it gets really gross.
With infants, you can’t pull that crap. You wash your hands for everything and anything. Bringing in groceries and want to kiss your baby and hold her little hand? Wash your hands first, asshole. Those vegetables have pesticides all over them and the canned goods were fondled by a kid with jam-hands five minutes before you tossed it into your cart. Hard day at work and hoping that holding and carrying your son when you get home will cure your ills? Wash your hands first, asshole. How many people’s hands did you shake, papers did you handle and surfaces were touched? Your paws might as well just have the word “germs” tattooed on them. Wash your fucking hands. And if you can’t remember if you just washed them or not (and you won’t due to lack of sleep), wash them again.
After about a week, your palms will resemble sandpaper to the touch and cracked concrete to the sight. No sense it trying to lotion them or figure out how to avoid it. You can’t. This is your life now, Raggedy Handy.
3. You will never sleep the same again…seriously
I can’t stress this enough. You have been warned…twice.
4. Your memory and listening skills will erode immediately
Whether you had a great memory before, or if you rivaled a goldfish, your bank vault has now been robbed by a tiny robber that you created. Way to go, shithead, nine months ago you fucked your brains out…literally. Six days after my daughter was born, I was at home, hanging out with my lifelong best friend and he stopped me after an hour to tell me that I had told him the same story three times already. I went on to tell him five more times that day.
I went to the store on day four and could have sworn I bought cranberry juice but damned if I could find it. On day eight I realized it was still in my car. On day nine I was completely surprised to find a mystery bottle of cranberry juice in my SUV that seemingly appeared out of no where. And the same will happen to you, too.
You will put the milk in the pantry and the cereal in the fridge. You will re-do a load of laundry twice because you forgot it was already clean and you thought they were just wet and sitting in there for some reason. Words will start to sound like other words and you will have full on conversations with people and have no damn clue how or why you are talking about what you are lacking about 10 minutes into it. Hell, I had to re-read this very article I wrote twice to this point, just to remind myself what I was writing about and why.
5. You are no longer the most important person in your life
Out of these five lessons, this is the hardest to explain but easiest to understand once your child is finally here and in your arms. My sister asked me when we were still in the hospital if I felt different at all. Without hesitation, I answered in the affirmative. She was surprised by this and asked how I felt different, for which, I was at a loss in how to explain. I struggle with it now too, to be honest.
I guess the best way to describe it, is that this person, your child, that you made, is loved by you on such a level that you don’t care about basic life operations you need, like sleep. You don’t mind physically degrading your body by constantly scrubbing your hands raw in order to protect them. And asking the same questions over and over again and having no clue whether you locked a door behind you or not, isn’t that big of a deal when you realize that everything you have lost since the birth, pales in comparison to everything you have gained from simply meeting your son or daughter. Every dirty diaper, every sleepless night and every missed opportunity to hang out with your friends doesn’t mean more than kissing your baby’s feet, watching them open their eyes and visually explore their surroundings or charting how the grow both physically and mentally right in front of you.
And that is what I know. That is how I know your life will change. And now that you know what to expect, go get some sleep before they get here. Trust me.